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Prevention and Heart-Healthy Living

Diagnosing and treating your heart condition is just the beginning. To give you the best quality of life, ongoing preventive care is important and you need to practice a heart-healthy lifestyle including:


Gundersen's Exercise Physiology provides medically supervised exercise programs. The programs combine exercise, education and socialization to help you achieve and maintain your highest level of function, health and independence.

  • Cardiac rehabilitation helps you after heart surgery, heart attack or other heart problems. It includes medically supervised activity, ongoing monitoring, and education about risk factor modification and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Movin' and Improvin' is a safe, effective, medically supervised exercise program if you have medical concerns. It can be a lifelong exercise program or a short-term fitness extension.

To learn more about any of these programs talk to your primary care provider, cardiologist or call Exercise Physiology at (608) 775-2955.

Tobacco cessation programs

Smoking is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease. But we understand that breaking tobacco dependence is difficult, so Gundersen's Office of Population Health offers several ways help you quit including classes, group and peer support, one-on-one counseling and products like nicotine replacement.

Tobacco cessation resources

To learn more about any of these programs, contact the Office of Population Health at (608) 775-5442 or e-mail

Heart-healthy nutrition

It's always important to eat a healthy diet, but especially when you're living with heart disease or heart failure, you are recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, or you have risk factors such as high blood pressure or diabetes. To help you maintain a healthy heart for life, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy offers:

  • A dietitian who specializes in nutrition for heart health
  • Nutrition assessment
  • Practical and individualized guidance on food selection
  • Education on healthy food preparation and heart healthy recipes
  • Nutrition classes and wellness programs
  • Products for healthy living

Remember, even small changes can make a big impact on your heart health. Starting with a heart healthy diet can be a big step towards a healthier lifestyle.

For more information about heart healthy eating or to schedule an appointment with a Gundersen registered dietitian, call Gundersen Nutrition Therapy at (608) 775-3447 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 53447.

Maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight makes your heart work harder to pump blood. So losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is important if you're living with heart disease or have risk factors.

Gundersen Nutrition Therapy offers several weight-loss options to give you the tools and confidence you need for long-term success. With lifestyle modification as the foundation, these medically proven options can help you lose weight:

  • One-on-one counseling with a registered dietitian
  • Counseling with a behavioral health therapist
  • Medications
  • Medically supervised meal replacement program
  • Bariatric (weight-loss) surgery
  • Custom exercise program with an exercise physiologist

To schedule a free consultation to discuss your options or to get started today, call Gundersen Nutrition Therapy at (608) 775-5673 (LOSE).

Know your heart risk factors

Lifestyle choices or family history can put you at a higher risk for heart disease. If you know your risk factors, you can take steps to change them. Here are some ways to determine your risk for heart disease:

Our heart risk assessment is an easy, free online tool to help you discover your heart's age. In five minutes or less learn how lifestyle choices and family history can put you at a higher risk and what steps you can take to lower your risk. With the profiler:

  • Compare your actual heart age to your heart's biological age
  • Estimate your risk for developing cardiovascular disease
  • Prioritize your most harmful cardiovascular risk factors

Take our heart risk assessment

Coronary artery calcium scoring is a screening tool that helps predict your risk for heart disease. It's non-invasive and painless, takes less than 15 minutes and requires no needles, dyes or special prep.

Calcium scoring helps determine the presence, location and thickness of calcified plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the heart—a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). Left untreated, this can cause a heart attack or stroke. The test is best if you have no symptoms but are at moderate risk for heart disease.

If not covered by your health insurance, Gundersen offers the calcium scoring test for $156. To learn if you would benefit from calcium scoring, talk with your healthcare provider to get a referral. Don't have a regular doctor? Request an appointment

Metabolic Syndrome, a group of mildly elevated risk factors, identifies individuals at risk for early development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and their complications and provides the opportunity to target early intervention. Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the following:

  • Waist measuring 35 inches or more in women and 40 inches or more in men or a body mass index greater than 30
  • Triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or greater
  • Low HDL ("good" cholesterol) of less than 40 mg/dL in men and less than 50 in women
  • High blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or greater
  • Fasting glucose level of 110 mg/dL or more

Metabolic syndrome increases your risk for heart attack or stroke threefold and doubles the chance for death from these conditions. It also increases your risk for diabetes fivefold. To help those with metabolic syndrome or type II diabetes lead a healthier lifestyle, Gundersen offers MetaBalance – Journey to Better Health, an 11-month program of exercise, nutrition and behavior modification. The goal is to help you achieve a 7 percent weight loss and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. You'll be empowered to change unhealthy habits and embrace a more active, healthier lifestyle.

To learn more or to find out when the next class will be held, call Gundersen Exercise Physiology at (608) 775-2955.

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